When my oldest daughter was under two years old, she accidentally took a flying nose-dive into a coffee table at a relative’s house (as kids do, you know). She was wailing and distraught; I scooped her up to comfort her and check for injuries. The pain was real but no permanent damage was done, so I gave her a cookie to soothe her.
She ate it, sniffling but appreciative. By the time she had devoured it, all was well. She went back to playing – and immediately climbed onto the couch, threw out her arms, and leaped face-first into the coffee table. Screaming and with tears streaming down her face, she pointed at the cookie jar.
Sometimes in our attempts to be kind, we incentivize the wrong thing. We accidentally create a reason to fail. You don’t want to be handing out crash cookies for the rest of your life. Sympathy and comfort are fine – good, even. But mix it with discussions about improvement and encouragement to try again differently. Don’t reward the broken nose.